BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets
BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets is a downloadable four-part episodic game that was available for the Satellaview add-on for the Super Famicom,[note 1] and the third title in the BS Zelda series. Each episode was downloaded from St. GIGA's satellite radio service and stored on memory packs but could only be played once a week during the broadcast period.
Ancient Stone Tablets is effectively a pseudo-sequel to A Link to the Past, using the same engine, gameplay, overworld, and characters, but featuring an original storyline and dungeons, and unique sidequests and Mini-Games. The game is timed and can only be played over the course of 60 minutes, with in-game events occurring at set time intervals. Various actions in the game reward the player with points, and the aim is to acquire as many points as possible within the time period. Players who achieved high scores were able to submit them to Nintendo in exchange for real-life prizes.
The player character is not Link, who is absent from the game, but in fact the avatars of the player's ID for the Satellaview, drawn into Hyrule and who come to be known as the Hero of Light. The same avatars are also the protagonists of BS The Legend of Zelda. The characters can be either male or female, with the male avatar wearing a backwards-facing baseball cap, and the female avatar having distinctive long red hair. Both avatars wear a tunic similar to the one that Link wears.
Unlike other titles for the service, Ancient Stone Tablets was only playable once a week during a very limited broadcast window. As the service has since been discontinued, the game in its original form is no longer commercially available. A restoration of the game can still be played through emulation, with most content having been restored using dumped materials from memory packs containing the game's data. The voice acting was held in the system's RAM, and thus has not been able to be preserved with the rest of the data.
The Hero of Light
The events of Ancient Stone Tablets occur a mere six years after the destruction of Ganon by the hero, Link in A Link to the Past. The character avatar from the distant Town Whose Name Has Been Stolen enters a mysterious-looking Fortune Teller's house that has appeared in the town. Finding only a magical golden bee, the avatar follows after it and enters the back of the house where strong magic transports the youth to the land of Hyrule.
Hyrule is enjoying a time of peace and tranquility, but Princess Zelda suffers from a dark, recurring dream showing a shadow over a temple; a premonition of evil to come. One day, she witnesses a mysterious and brilliant light in the sky to the east. Aginah, the younger brother of the wise man Sahasrahla and now living in his old hideout near the Eastern Palace also witnesses such a light, and travels to investigate. There he finds the youth lying on the ground. Zelda, also following the light, meets up with Aginah, and they both carry the child to rest in Sahasrahla's hideout. Confused by the youth's unusual clothes, they believe the child not to hail from Kakariko Village. Speaking to Aginah while the youngster sleeps, Zelda learns that his brother Sahasrahla had also sensed danger surrounding Hyrule and had left the land to find the hero, Link. While Link has not yet returned, Zelda senses that if this new youth was endowed with courage, he or she may be the Hero of Light.
The Monsters Return
Some time after Zelda sets off to return to Hyrule Castle, a Soldier who guards the Eastern Palace appears before Aginah, claiming that a horde of monsters had appeared, killing the other guards protecting the temple. As the sole survivor, he passes this information on to Aginah despite his injuries. Aginah remains with the youth, hoping Zelda's belief in him or her is true. When the child awakens, Aginah informs the youngster of the monsters that are attacking their land, and explains that it is dangerous to go alone without a weapon. He states that a Sword and Shield can be found in the Eastern Palace, but he himself is too old to go there. He lends the youth an Ocarina and a Bug-Catching Net belonging to Saharshala, and also a Bottle containing a magical Golden Bee. He informs the child that the bee will attack monsters, but flee from anyone who holds a blade, and that the ocarina can be used to return to the entrance of a dungeon. With that, the new hero embarks on his or her journey.
After obtaining weaponry and exploring the Eastern Palace and a dark dungeon hidden behind the Waterfall of Wishing, the hero obtains two mysterious tablets from the Dungeon Masters, the Armos Knights and Moldorm. The hero also rescues Zelda from a monster attack and escorts her to Hyrule Castle. After the hero's quests in the dungeons are completed, he or she and Aginah meet up with Zelda in the castle and proceed to study the unusual tablets. Aginah concludes that they should travel to his elder brother's house in Kakariko Village to search for clues to deciphering the markings. Unfortunately, Aginah fails to discover anything important about them, so implores the hero to travel forth and collect more of them from the dungeon monsters. After obtaining two more tablets, Zelda suggests they travel instead to Link's House to obtain the Book of Mudora, which may be able to translate the text. While Aginah searches the house, Zelda calls for the Fortune Teller to divine the location of the book, while the hero continues to search for the tablets. Aginah does eventually locate the book, upon which point he and the hero meet with Zelda at the castle.
The Silver Arrows and the Demon King
The translated text of the tablets, written in the language of ancient Hyrule states that a sealed power, the Silver Arrows, is buried on the mountain. Aginah and the hero travel to the Sanctuary at the foot of the mountain, but Zelda follows, claiming she had another prophetic dream, this time of her holding the Book of Mudora on top of Death Mountain. Zelda insists on traveling with the hero to the summit of the mountain, as she is the only one who can read the Book of Mudora. During their quest to obtain the final two tablets and reach the summit, the Fortune Teller sees the King of Evil in a vision. Ganon's malice had kept his spirit alive despite the destruction of his body. It was this lingering evil power that had drawn the Hero of Light into the land of Hyrule, and upon the summit the hero travels once more into another world to engage in a desperate final battle with the Demon King in a new version of Ganon's Tower. Ganon desires the power of the Hero of Light to be fully reborn, but is finally destroyed using the Silver Arrows once more.
The game is divided into four separate episodes, each of which is playable for 60 minutes. Each episode focuses on a specific region of Hyrule, with much of the land inaccessible in the earlier episodes. A very small section of the Dark World is visited at the end of Episode 4. The game always ends after time expires, regardless of whether the player has completed all available tasks or not, and progress is saved to the BS-X cartridge.
Subsequent episodes carry over any Stone Tablets and items the player has obtained, as well as their Rupees which contribute to their score. The player is be able to resume uncompleted tasks from previous episodes but the previous dungeons are closed off. A Thief will stand outside them give the player a Big Bag filled with the spoils of the dungeon.
Several shops have been added to Hyrule, some selling general goods and medicine, and some of which are Rental Shops that will loan the Hero items for 10 minutes in exchange for Rupees. Once the Hero has obtained the item for themselves in a dungeon the item will no longer be available to hire from the Rental Shop. The Witch's Hut stocks a new Gold Potion, which fully restores health and magic and temporarily allows the Hero to charge Spin Attacks twice as quickly and makes the first hit of a sword attack twice as strong.
Various timed events will occur at specific time intervals. Some of these affect gameplay, such as changes in weather precipitation, which will cause NPCs to go inside and hostile Zoras to appear on land, temporary power-ups such as sword beams, infinite ammunition, maximum hearts, Fairies appearing, or Bombos or Ether affecting enemies onscreen. Other events are relevant to the game's plot and require the Hero's intervention, such as Zelda being assaulted by Octoroks, and a Sage falling into a river. Additionally, a Mole can appear in a specific location in each episode (which was changed with each individual broadcast) and lead the player to a large stash of hidden Rupees.
The game made use of a technology called SoundLink, which streamed orchestrated music (which consisted of tracks from The Legend of Zelda: Sound & Drama album) as well as a technology called Live Voice, which provided plot exposition and hints in the form of a live voice-acted drama. The narrator would speak to the player directly, but characters such as Aginah and Princess Zelda would speak to the hero via telepathy. Side characters also had voiced dialogue that could only be heard when the player was in proximity to them.
The Hero awakens in a shrine near the Eastern Palace. Aginah is standing next to him or her, and explains that although he does not know who they are, he knows that they are important. He gives the Hero a Big Bag containing a Bug Net, Ocarina, Lantern, and a Bottle containing a Golden Bee and instructs them to go to the Eastern Palace to acquire a stone tablet. The Golden Bee must be used to defeat enemies inside the palace and acquire the LV1 Sword. Inside the palace are chests containing the Bow and the Pegasus Boots, which now allow the character to turn while dashing.
The Hero must then travel to Zora's Waterfall to purchase the Zora's Flippers, allowing them to access to a temple behind the Waterfall of Wishing where the second Stone Tablet and Boomerang can be found. After 43 minutes Zelda will come under attack by Octoroks in a glade south of the Eastern Palace. The Hero can defeat the enemies and lead Zelda to Hyrule Castle to be rewarded with 300 Rupees and 10,000 points.
A pot-smashing Mini-Game opens after 45 minutes, located in a cave below the grounds of the Eastern Palace. It costs 50 Rupees to play and requires the Hero to smash pots using their Magic Hammer without missing.
A Mole can be found after 44 minutes in one of the following locations:
- Outside the Fairy Fountain near the Waterfall of Wishing
- On the bridge east of Hyrule Castle
- West of the Eastern Palace
- North end of the stone bridge
- East of the Medicine Shop
He will uncover a cave west of the Witch's Hut containing six chests with 100 Rupees each.
The Hero awakens in Sahasrahla's house in Kakariko Village, and is tasked with finding two more Stone Tablets. One is kept in an underground labyrinth east of the village where the Blue Mail and Magic Hammer can be found, and the other is located in a temple deep within the Lost Woods, where the Red Shield and Hookshot can be acquired.
One of the Dwarven Swordsmiths can be found in the Lost Woods asking to be returned to their partner in the Blacksmith. They will reward the Hero with the LV2 Sword and 10,000 points. A bomb-throwing Mini-Game opens after 45 minutes, located in a cave below the Lost Woods. It costs 20 Rupees for 5 bombs and the Hero must throw them into a moving pot without missing.
A Mole can be found after 47 minutes in one of the following locations:
- Inside a house in Kakariko Village
- Inside a house south-west of Kakariko Village
- By the entrance to the underground labyrinth
- South-west of Kakariko Village
- South of Kakariko Village
The Hero awakens in Link's House, where they can find a chest containing the Worn-Out Glove. The Hero must locate another two Stone Tablets, one of which is held in a temple in the Great Swamp, which also houses the Power Glove and LV3 Sword, and the other found in the Desert Palace, where the Red Mail and the Fire Rod can be acquired.
A third bottle can be obtained under the bridge east of Link's House. An Archery Mini-Game can be played in a house near the Rental Shop. After 28 minutes the Priest will fall into the river by Lake Hylia and will follow the Hero back to Hyrule Castle, where Zelda and the Fortune Teller are waiting and be rewarded with 10,000 points.
The Shooting Range Mini-Game opens after 45 minutes, located west of Link's House. It costs 20 Rupees for 5 Arrows and the hero must shoot the targets without missing.
A Mole can be found after 44 minutes in one of the following locations:
- Cliffs to the west of the Desert Palace
- In the Haunted Grove
- East of the temple in the Great Swamp
- Inside Link's House
- South of the Eastern Palace, near Lake Hylia
He will uncover a cache in the northern part of the Great Swamp.
The Hero begins in the Sanctuary. Zelda appears and decides to follow the Hero, though she will wait outside of any caves or dungeons that are entered. The Hero must retrieve the final two tablets, one from a crypt below the Graveyard that also contains the Titan's Mitt and the Cane of Somaria, and one from a cavern below Death Mountain that houses the Mirror Shield and the Ice Rod. Together with Zelda, the Hero must also venture to the Sacred Grove to retrieve the Master Sword and receive 5000 points.
Almost the entirety of Hyrule can be explored in this episode. A final bottle can be found in a cave below a gravestone in the north-west corner of the graveyard. A slot-machine Mini-Game opens after 45 minutes. It costs 20 Rupees and the Hero must use the Boomerang to stop the slots and match three symbols in a row.
The Mole appears after 34 minutes in one of the following locations:
- On the bridge east of Hyrule Castle
- East of the Graveyard
- North of Kakariko Village
- In the Sacred Grove
- Inside the Lumberjack's house
He will tunnel into the base of Death Mountain to reveal another hidden cache of 1400 Rupees.
After 48 minutes, Zelda travels to the top of the mountain to decipher a large stone tablet. The tablet breaks revealing the Silver Arrows and a blue portal to Ganon's Tower. The Hero must drop down a hole in the tower in order to face Ganon. After defeating him, the Hero can return to Zelda to report his victory.
After time runs out, the game ends depending on the player's progress. If they defeated Ganon the Hero will return the Master Sword to its resting place in the Lost Woods and be transported back to their own world. If they failed to defeat him, the Hero collapses outside of the Witch's Hut and is told that although they ran out of time, they gave it their "best shot".
Ancient Stone Tablets was initially broadcasted throughout March and April of 1997, with reruns in June of the same year and November and December of 1998. The top 5 scoring players each week were rewarded with an 8M Memory Pack for use with the Broadcast Sattellaview.
|Date||Chapter Title||Translated Title|
|March 30 — April 5, 1997||ＢＳゼルダの伝説 古代の石盤 第１話||BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets Episode 1|
|June 1 — June 7, 1997|
|November 29 — December 5, 1998|
|April 6 — April 12, 1997||ＢＳゼルダの伝説 古代の石盤 第２話||BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets Episode 2|
|June 8 — June 14, 1997|
|December 6 — December 12, 1998|
|April 13 — April 19, 1997||ＢＳゼルダの伝説 古代の石盤 第３話||BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets Episode 3|
|June 15— June 21, 1997|
|December 13 — December 19, 1998|
|April 20 — April 26, 1997||ＢＳゼルダの伝説 古代の石盤 第４話||BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets Episode 4|
|June 22 — June 28, 1997|
|December 20 — December 26, 1998|
- Zelda: Mariko Kokuda
- Aginah: Koji Yada
- Fortune Teller: Akihiro Takato
- Soldier: Moriya Endo
- Narrator: Hiroshi Isobe
|Any%||Matkap||7m 11s||May 25, 2022|
|Any% (Restricted Glitches)||RealAlphaGamer||43m 27s||June 15, 2021|
|Any% (Restricted Glitches, All Weeks)||RealAlphaGamer||1h 6m 28s||June 14, 2021|
|100% (Restricted Glitches)||RealAlphaGamer||1h 10m 39s||June 15, 2021|
|All Tablets (Restricted Glitches)||RealAlphaGamer||30m 9s||June 14, 2021|
- This is the first game to directly refer to Zelda's ability to predict the future through her dreams.
- While BS The Legend of Zelda was the first game to introduce a time limit and time-based events, this was the first game in which NPCs would actively move, change their behavior and even sometimes require rescuing depending on these events, a system that was later used to extensive effect in Majora's Mask.
- Due to the Live Voice broadcast, this is the first Nintendo-produced Zelda game in which the princess' voice is heard in any fashion.
- The hero gained the ability to turn at right angles while using the Pegasus Boots for exceptionally fast movement, which was later used (with slightly less precise turning) in Four Sword Adventures.
- The Gold Potion is introduced in this game, a potion that not only restores the hero's health and magic, but imbues him with a golden glow and increases his strength for a limited period of time (by shortening the time it takes to charge a Spin Attack), similar to the Elixir Soup from The Wind Waker and both the Great Fairy's Tears and Rare Chu Jelly in Twilight Princess.
- This is also the first game to involve a mini-game using Bombs; namely attempting to throw them into a large moving jar, later used for puzzles in Ocarina of Time and other games.
- This the first game in the series to allow the hero to temporarily rent items, instead of permanently obtaining them. This is a concept that is revisited in A Link Between Worlds.
- The plot of the game takes place six years after A Link to the Past, the same amount of time between the Japanese releases of both games.
- There are spots for the Magic Cape and the Book of Mudora, but neither of them normally appear in the game.
|Names in Other Regions|
|Japanese||BSゼルダの伝説 古代の石盤 (BS Zeruda no Densetsu: Inishie no Sekiban)||BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets|
- Super Famicom is the Japanese name for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
- "Mar 30-Apr 5,1997 - BS The Legend of Zelda Ancient Stone Tablets The 1st Story" — BS Zelda, The BS Zelda Homepage.
- "Apr 6-12, 1997 - BS The Legend of Zelda Ancient Stone Tablets The 2nd Story" — BS Zelda, The BS Zelda Homepage.
- "Apr 13-19, 1997 - BS The Legend of Zelda Ancient Stone Tablets The 3rd Story" — BS Zelda, The BS Zelda Homepage.
- "Apr 20-26, 1997 - BS The Legend of Zelda Ancient Stone Tablets The 4th Story" — BS Zelda, The BS Zelda Homepage.
- "BS THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: These games were broadcast via the Satellaview, a satellite modem for the Super Nintendo. Two titles were created for the system: BS The Legend of Zelda, based on the first Zelda game, and BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets, based on A Link to the Past." (Hyrule Historia, Dark Horse Books, pg. 237)
- "Narrator: 6 years ago, Link the Hero threw down the King of Evil, Ganon. Since then, the land of Hyrule has basked in a time of tranquillity. But one day..." — Voice acting translation, The BS Zelda HomePage.
- "Ah, so you've awakened, young child from another world. You were wrapped in a mysterious light which brought you here, although I don't know what it was." — Aginah (Ancient Stone Tablets)
- "These files were patched with the... Magic cape and Book Mudora" — BS Zelda, The BS Zelda Homepage.